UW Gateway Botswana 2019 Participants

Nzinga Acosta is a rising sophomore at UW-Madison studying Fashion Design with certificates in Entrepreneurship, Business, and African Studies. She has been hand-sewing clothing since she was young and wants to enter a career in fashion. Her goal is to create a sustainable clothing brand that merges cultural Rastafari dress with mainstream fashion trends using eco-friendly business practices.

Nzinga was born and raised in Milwaukee, and her family is from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She is a member of the Rastafari community and proudly represents her culture. She serves on the executive boards of UW’s Black Student Union and Change Collaborative, and is a PEOPLE Scholar as well as a Gates Scholar. She also conducts research as an Undergraduate Research Scholar on U.S. black protest history.

Because of her Afro-Caribbean roots, Nzinga has always been very interested in African culture and history. She was ecstatic when she found the opportunity to do the Global Gateway program in Botswana to experience Motswana culture first-hand and gain an international perspective on environmental health. Since arriving in Botswana, she feels at home in the culture and wants to come back in the future. She also hopes to live in Ethiopia in the future because of its cultural and religious significance.

In her free time, Nzinga loves singing, practicing yoga, and trying the hottest pescatarian cuisine. She also knows taekwondo, coaches soccer, and is learning Spanish. She is an inspiring, wise, passionate, warm, and extremely accomplished roommate and it is an honor to be her friend.



For the Global Gateway Botswana program my roommate is Haley Sisel. She is entering her junior year of college and is majoring in Spanish and Biology as a double major with certificates in Global Health and Gender and Women Studies on the pre med track. After she earns her bachelors degree she hopes to one day become an orthopedic surgeon or work with prosthetics or orthotics. This is her first time ever traveling to Africa but it isn’t her first time traveling out of the country as she went to Italy in high school. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, reading, photography, hiking, boating, and anything that really is outdoors. Her favorite part of the trip so far has been interacting with the locals in Botswana and seeing all of the wildlife including Mokolodi and Sanita’s Garden.


My roommate is Kristina Parker, or K.P. for short. She graduated high school from the Milwaukee School of Languages, and just finished her first year at UW. She is double majoring in Neurobiology and Dance, with aspirations to be either a Forensic Psychiatrist or Emergency Medicine Doctor. In fact, she currently shadows surgeons at UW Health, works in a lab dealing with brain imaging, psychology, and behaviors of individuals who are deemed psychotic, and wants to start volunteering at the hospital this summer as well. Being in Botswana is her first time abroad and so far she’s really enjoyed seeing all of the animals during our game drive at Mokolodi Nature Reserve! I’ve also noticed that she is trying to be more adventurous and try new things this trip (not the Phane aka dried caterpillars yet, bummer) which I really appreciate! While at home, her favorite thing to do is put up a hammock by the lake. Although she’s quiet at first, she’s extremely friendly and has a great sense of humor. It’s safe to say she’s not exactly a morning person, but I love that we can bond over our love for sleeping; she was zonked the entire 20 hour plane ride from Chicago to Gaborone. I’m really enjoying getting to know K.P. and look forward to spending more time together throughout the next couple weeks!


My roommate’s name is Enjoyiana Nururdin. She was born in Madison, Wisconsin. Her major is Journalism with the PEP (Political Economy, Philosophy and Politics) certificate. Her interests lie in food journalism at the moment. A fun fact about her is that her favorite color is rose gold and any other variations of pink. Her favorite animal is an elephant. She loves any type of alfredo pasta. During her free time, she enjoys being able to read/write while taking the time to reflect on herself (i.e. doing her hair and nails). Her charismatic personality is what drives her passion for utilizing her writing in her future field of study. Due to her frequent travels within the past six months, she has grown to challenge herself and the people surrounding her with dialogue. The last place she has traveled to was Louisiana over spring break. She dreams of visiting Italy in the future. This is her first time traveling abroad. She views this as an amazing opportunity to explore and be culturally immersed within a country in Africa. Based off thoughts on our American privilege, she hopes to envision a different way to be an outsider and have the ability to report hard and controversial issues. Apart from the early mornings, nothing has been challenging yet. She believes overcoming pre-departure misconceptions surrounding the environment in Botswana was the biggest obstacle so far. She is looking forward to trying more meals including beef. Enjoyiana hopes to be pushed outside of her comfort zone in our upcoming village visit. With her arrival back on campus in a few weeks, she is interested in making study abroad programs in Africa more readily available, especially for fields like journalism because this program is a good example of the impact that could be made on a student.


Meet my roommate, Nicole Ibraham. She’s a smoothie and tea turtle-loving, caring gal from New York City. 

She was born in Ukraine and is a Posse scholar. 

Nicole and I knew each other a little bit before the program but had never really gotten close, now we spend nights cranking the heat on in Gaborone, Botswana, playing music and occasionally checking in on the spider in our bathroom, Spidey-Pig. Her favorite color is Veridian and she loves reading young adult novels, eating at new places and traveling.

Nicole, a pre-vet Wildlife Ecology Major, refuses to kill any spiders we find in our room, insisting it’s bad luck. Upon the discovery of the first one in our shower, I watched it to make sure it was harmless. Once she found the other one, I cried until she brought it outside of our room. That was just one signifier that she is going places.

Nicole has actually been to many different places outside of Botswana. She’s been to Spain recently for Spring Break and looks forward to visiting Thailand someday. 

We both share the same excitement about Botswana. We knew people who went to Brazil via Global Gateway and how much they raved about it. We both look forward to exploring the country and everything that comes along with it. 

We both have never been to Africa before and this is something new for both of us. The classes align with both our interests but especially with her love for the environment and wildlife. 

She looks forward to becoming a Bridge Partner upon the return to campus to help international students get accustomed to life. In the future, Nicole hopes to become a wildlife vet without borders, traveling the world and doing research while helping animals. 

Be on the lookout for any wild adventures you may see us have!


My roomate it Siti Hydara. Siti just finished up her first year at UW and is majoring in political science on the pre-med track, she also wants to get a lactation certification in the future. Siti is a big dreamer. She wants to live in Brazil one day and learn as many languages as possible, like Arabic, French, Korean, Chinese, and Spanish. She’s interested in opening up hospitals internationally, with the first one being in Gamba, in places of need as well as becoming a trauma surgeon, or even an international lawyer. Siti serves as on of the Event Planners for the African Students Association as well as an Event Planner for Queen In You.

Siti was born in Gambia and raised in the East side of Madison, but now lives in the North side. Her family comes from Brikama in Gambia and she has much pride for her culture. She loves her mother and younger sister very much. Siti’s favorite Gambian food is Ebeh, a seafood gumbo dish, and Oleleh, a mashed and steamed bean dish with seafood. She unfortunately hasn’t been back to Gambia since she left but plans to in the future.

Siti’s favorite TV show is Supernatural and Korean dramas. She has a deep appreciation for Korean pop culture as she’s also a big fan of Korean pop music. Her favorite K-Pop groups are Shinee and Big Bang.

Siti is fun-living, caring, silly, and a very smart person. Everywhere she goes she brings laughter and light with her.


My roommate Damitu Hamda just finished her sophomore year and will start as a junior in the fall. She is currently double majoring in Political Science and International Studies, with a certificate in African Studies. Damitu’s family is from Ethiopia and they are of the Oromo ethnic group. She was born in Minneapolis and raised on the west side of Madison. She is currently the new president of African Student Association, Secretary of Black Student Union, and manager of ASA Dance. She is on the board of directors for the Rape Crisis Center and the Event Planner and Operation Assistant at the Wisconsin Alumni Association. Damitu hopes to attend Law school to become an immigrant lawyer, that works with undocumented students. She wants to work with the international NGOs in Africa or Latin America. Damitu speaks Spanish and did a study abroad at Costa Rica. She can speak Afaan Oromo and Spanish and is learning Yoruba. After the Botswana study abroad program, Damitu is going to Denmark to study the transnational experience of African-Americans in Denmark. Damitu has two sisters, an older and a younger. Damitu loves traveling, she has been to Canada, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, and many states all over the U.S. Damitu will also travel to the United Kingdom and France this summer after her study abroad program to Denmark. Damitu is a vegetarian and has been for 7 years because she loves animals. I met Damitu through ASA and BSU my freshman year, and I cannot wait for us to get to know each other more through this program as roommates.


Today I am introducing one of my roommates, Umer Sohail, on our study abroad trip in Gaborone, Botswana. He has just finished his freshman year and is majoring in Finance and Investment Banking. He is involved in many cultural student organizations, including being the Vice President of the Pakistani Student Association, a member of the Muslim Student Association, the Indian Student Association, as well as the religious/multicultural fraternity Alpha Lambda Mu, and a former member of the social fraternity Phi Delta Theta. In his free time he enjoys playing basketball, investing and trading stocks, driving, and traveling.

Umer was born in Lahore, Pakistan, but moved to Houston, Texas at the age of three. He then moved to Madison, Wisconsin at the age of ten, starting on the East side, and then moving to the West side during middle school. His extended family lives in Pakistan, and so he travels back there every year in order to see them. This year, he plans to travel there in August, under a program that makes paintings of orphans in Pakistan, made in the United States, and delivers them to those orphanages.

Through Global Gateway, Umer wishes to become more open and mindful of others and their culture, looking at things through new lenses and understand others through their perspectives. Furthermore, while taking classes at the University of Botswana, he would like to focus on learning about the quickly growing economy of Botswana, as he is greatly interested in the field of international business.


My roommates name is Tyler Fredrick. He is a triple major in Astronomy Physics, Physics, and Mathematics. He is currently a part of the ROTC program at UW-Madison, and wants to be a submarine officer, mainly to work on nuclear reactors. He is from Rhinelander, Wisconsin and just finished his freshman year at UW-Madison. In his free time, he likes to read and play video games for fun. His favorite video games are Madden and Call of Duty games. He has two sisters and one brother. Tyler LOVES French Toast, and is also a big fan of Peanut Butter and Jelly. A big reason that Tyler wanted to study abroad in Botswana this summer was because he’s always wanted to travel, pointing out that this is his first time out of the country aside from a camping trip to Canada. In Botswana, he hopes to experience a new culture and gain confidence through being in a new, unfamiliar environment that he isn’t used to. He hopes to learn and grow within himself by being here. A fun fact about Tyler is that he was in Naval ROTC indoctrination Pilot Program, a unique program which is the first of its type where 66 candidates were chosen to participate. The program consisted of Swim Qualifications, Drilling, Fire Fighting, Firearms Training, Confidence Chamber Exposure, and many other things directly related to ROTC. After our time in Gaborone this summer, Tyler will be heading to Virginia where he will reside for a month doing more ROTC training.


My roommate is Israel Oby. Israel is a sophomore, soon to be a junior in the upcoming fall. He is looking to major ins Psychology and Neurobiology with an African Studies Certificate, ultimately looking to be premed. Israel would eventually like to end up in either Medicine or Public Health.

Israel has been involved in many programs in the past and has maintained a high level of involvement on campus as well. He is PEOPLE program scholar, is currently part of the Wisconsin Black Student Union, and a brother of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He was also a member of ITA during high school and is now continuing his work with ITA as a tech instructor. A a part of his job with ITA, Israel will be spending some time up north during the summer to teach for the program.

Israel enjoys spending his free time doing one of his many hobbies. He loves playing basketball, writing raps, editing videos, doing graphic design. Israel is the youngest in the family with 2 older siblings, both brothers, whose names are Emmanuel and Isaiah.

Israel chose the Global Gateway Botswana program because his interest lies very closely with the courses that we will be studying. He hopes to learn more about the Public Health and Environmental issues that are prevalent in Botswana and understand why they exist. This will allow Israel to further his knowledge in the fields of medicine and public health and gain a very unique perspective. Furthermore, travelling to Botswana will be the first International trip Israel has made and he is very excited to explore an understand an entirely new place.
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It’s only been five days and I feel like Mahbuba Amer is a friend and someone I’ve been around for much longer – she is my roommate this month and for that I am so grateful! Mahbuba is a rising junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is pursuing a double major in Neurobiology and Psychology. She is using UW Global Gateway to jumpstart a certificate in African Studies as well as finish up a certificate in Global Health.  She is also very active in her student orgs, Students for Justice in Palestine and MSA, or Muslim Students Association. She grew up in Milwaukee, the second of five siblings.

Mahbuba is an incredible person, and I’m really happy that I could meet her and be her roommate this month. She’s a joy to be around and is always looking for the next adventure here in Botswana.  She is kind and honest and made me feel comfortable as her roommate right away. From what I can tell, she is a very loyal person and friend that truly cares a lot about the people that are close to her.

She’s also a proud Muslim woman, and I’ve been able to learn so much from her since coming here – about her culture and the month of Ramadan, which she and several other students are observing right now. Her attitude is always so positive and that has definitely had a positive impact on my experience, as well! With everything that she has learned so far, Mahbuba hopes to return to campus with new insight and perspective as she continues studying in Wisconsin.


My roommates name is Savannah and she is one of the sweetest and most thoughtful people I have met. It’s only been a couple days and she has already given me a sense of stability and support that you need when you need a home away from home. For example, as I am participating in the month of Ramadan and fasting, I would wake up at about 4:30 AM to eat breakfast before my day of fasting. She would also wake up and make breakfast with me and help me make the things I couldn’t. She supported me and the others on the trip that are fasting, and would help try to make an already difficult situation easier!

We are extremely similar in the way that we process and think about different situations. We are both interested in exploring the city and trying new things. Savannah is a pre-nursing major and is about to enter her third year of undergrad. She is a 27D Paralegal Specialist at the Army National Guard of the United States and she works at the hospital as a certified nursing assistant! She is a Sagittarius and I am a Scorpio- which means that we astrologically get along very well! We both had high school jobs, she worked at Target! One thing that I have noticed about Savannah is that she is always prepared and ready for the unexpected, whether it be an inconvenience of the weather or of an uncomfortable situation. She is extremely supportive and I look forward to getting to know her more! I can’t wait to experience all of the great memories that are to come on this study abroad journey and after!


I have the pleasure of rooming with Athena Hiemstra during our time in Botswana. Athena is from Turtle Lake, Wisconsin and is a rising sophomore on the pre nursing track. In addition to being the oldest of 3, she is also a first generation college student. When Athena gets free time from her very busy school and work schedule, she enjoys watching classic Disney movies, spending time outside, and cheering on the Wisconsin Badgers.

Athena is always the first one in a group to strike up a conversation. Her love of talking and constant energy makes her a very fun and entertaining person to be around! While traveling, Athena is always eager to not only learn about this area, but to see and explore for herself. Her love of exploration and fearless attitude make her the perfect roommate and travelling partner! My favorite time with Athena is when we reflect on the crazy and interesting parts of the day in our room directly before we go to sleep. After our reflection, Athena turns on old Scooby Doo episodes to soothe her to sleep!

Athena hopes to return from this trip with a perfect summer tan, endless memories, and a large multitude of knowledge and experiences which will help widen her perspective on life.


Bea Mumm is one of the exceptional students who were chosen to participate in the UW Botswana trip 2019. She going into her junior year and studies Communication Sciences and Disorders. Bea was raised in a very small town called Bloomington, WI. She grew up on a cattle farm and graduated with 25 other students from River Ridge High School. In her free time she likes to kayak, hangout with friends, and watch documentaries.

Bea is an amazing roommate who is genuinely a very happy person. She is the type of person to spend the extra time enjoying the world around her; making sure to capture all of the beautiful scenes in her mind. She has had a smile on her face since we met and laughs all the time (even in her sleep)! After being in Botswana for six days, her passion for learning and socializing has really shown through. She has mentioned that she finds both classes intriguing and the relevance of the topics allows her to take what she has learned and apply it to the world around. After each excursion, Bea is glowing with fascination, excitement, and left wanting more information about the world. Her passion and positive energy is admirable.